Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adios 2011

I am SO DONE with this year!!
There were some good things to attribute to 2011….in February I had a fun sisters reunion in Port Angeles, WA.  A week together was just right….we cooked, and shopped, and walked and  I got to meet my nephew’s kids and meet his wife.  We watched movies and did a lot of laughing.  There is something about shared sisterly DNA, we all make each other laugh (MOST of the time)! 
I had a pretty good garden this summer even if it was mostly over by the first part of August.  It always goes too fast but when it starts raining about six weeks early things happen in a hurry.  I have finally gotten to the point where I feel I have an established garden.  Even if I didn’t plant one thing new I’d still have a pretty full area.  We did do some brick work and built new borders and a whole new bedding area out front.  It felt good to give my garden area a facelift.
In September I got a new job and that was probably the single best thing that happened this year.  It continues to be very challenging.  Everyday something completely new and unexpected comes up.  My supervisor warns me that it will take a good year before I feel like I know what I’m doing and I’ve never had a job like that before.  There was always a learning curve but it usually only lasted a month or two at the most.  My boss is a dream to work for, very encouraging and supportive and really appreciative of my efforts.  My coworkers are all very nice people and everyone gets along so well.  It continues to amaze me, it’s like finding nirvana after spending time in hell.  Seriously folks, it couldn’t be more different than my last experience.  I am still trying to process all that happened in that job and discern what management was thinking.  I just don’t understand how people think they are going to get a good, let alone the best result from people that are so unhappy, unappreciated and utterly defeated.  I’ve never seen so many demoralized people in one place and every day I wonder why someone doesn’t do something about it.  And why those people are allowed to run amuck.  And what justification they would give for their behavior.  And how they got to be so misguided.   It really is nothing more than schoolyard bullying and it is shameful that professionals at the State of Alaska are allowed to conduct themselves that way.
In November Chris & I celebrated our 10th anniversary and took a long weekend trip to Seattle.  We stayed at the Westin Hotel right downtown and had thousands of stores within walking distance.  One night we were eating dinner at the hotel restaurant watching the crazy Friday night traffic and Chris commented that just watching that kind of traffic made him tense.  I guess you really can take the Houston out of the boy as well as the boy out of Houston.  He lived there for 20 years and in less than 10 he is SO over city driving.  Which isn’t necessarily a good thing….now when he has to he gets very short tempered and grouchy.
The house is all prepared for Christmas, the village is set up, the tree is adorned and all the holiday merriment placed about the house.  Gumdrop cookies have been made, cranberry salsa is plenty and most the gifts have been purchased and mailed.
I hope everyone reading this (YES, all 3 of you!) has a blessed and wonderful holiday season.  And my prayer for each of you is that in 2012 ALL your dreams come true!  May God bless you richly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Fleeting Life Can Be...

Yesterday a coworker’s husband died while diving.  He was 35 and they had been together since 9th grade.  He also left a 7 year old daughter.  I didn’t know him but I’ve known his wife for years and his mom used to be a state commissioner and frequented the AG’s office quite a bit when I worked there.  His dad is the chancellor at UAA, SE and he is often heard on the radio or on TV.   I wasn’t close friends with any of them but his death affected me deeply.
I think about his wife and how she got out of bed that morning and did all the routine things one does to get ready for work.  How is must have felt like an typical, ordinary Monday morning, the knowledge that she was stepping into the worst day of her life blissfully ignorant to her.  Her husband was probably already gone, he was working as a deck hand that day and they were going sea cucumber diving.  She was probably feeding her daughter and getting her ready for school.  When she got to work she probably visited with coworkers  and inquired about the weekend that had just passed before she settled into her desk to begin work.
It probably couldn’t have been anything but a regular day at work before two JPD officers appeared at her desk that day asking to speak to her in private.  I imagine anyone seeing them walking in prayed a quick prayer that those officers weren’t there looking for them.  Whose desk they stopped at was a gruesome, random chance.  Another woman in the office saw them and had her own flashbacks, these officers had appeared at her desk one day to give her the news her daughter was dead.  I think of all the military spouses who have looked up to see uniformed men approaching their doorstep and want to run back in time and make it stop.  As she walked to the conference room, I can’t imagine what his wife was thinking.  Who in her family could it be?  Her mother?  Her father?  A sibling?  I’m sure her mind wouldn’t allow her to think it was her husband or her daughter.   Perhaps she hoping someone just got arrested before she realized they wouldn’t be paying an office visit to share that information.  It’s those visceral moments in life that tend to define us.   You become who you are because of the results of these moments.  It will always be a part of your history.  Someday, she will find a new normal…she may even find love again and remarry but she will always be a woman who found herself in front of two officers on that rainy October morning in Juneau.
I can’t begin to imagine what she is going through today.  To wake up (if she managed to sleep at all) and realize she is a widow.  That the love of her life and the father of her child is gone from this earth, that the plans she had for the weekend and for next month and for the rest of her life no longer apply.  I  am overwhelmed for her, thinking of decisions that have to be made, vacations that have to be cancelled, dreams that have to be rewritten.  One life ended, many lives interrupted. 
On Facebook this morning she pleaded with people to hug those you love and love so hard you have no regrets.  She said she had no regrets, because of the love they shared.  She assured people she would be fine with him as their angel watching over them.   She also knows the Lord and I’m positive he is holding her close, comforting her and giving her peace as only a loving Father can do.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I  decided I better make a blog entry before I forgot how.  Seriously, I just haven’t had any writing inspirations.  I was going to blog about how horrible my old job was but my mind isn't ready to go back there so instead I’ll write about my new job.
On September 26, 2011 I started a new job with the Department of Health & Social Services, in the Grants and Contracting Section.  My title is Grants Administrator I, which is a range 14 but after a year you flex to a II, which is a range 17 so that’s a nice little jump.  I am a 14J though, so that’s the equivalent of a 17C so my jump won’t be too significant but that’s okay.  At least I won’t be in longevity anymore. 
Although I am called a Grants Administrator that is not what I do.  What is do is function as a leasing officer.  I am the only one in the section that deals with leases and DHSS has about 80 active leases in 30 different communities.  The Division of General Services has the procurement authority to lease,  DHSS does not, so I am the liaison between DGS and the our divisions.  Whenever anyone  wants to move  entirely or just  gain or lose space,  I am called upon.  When a lease is not renewed, I am called upon.  I keep a huge spreadsheet that maintains all the current numbers and keep the divisions up to date on what square feet they have and what they are paying.  Whenever construction work needs to be in the buildings we own and occupy, I hire contractors and engineers and abatment people. 
In a year’s time, I will go before a couple of department people and be tested.  You get all the questions beforehand and can have whatever notes and written material you choose to have with you but it’s still a test and an oral one at that.  Because I don’t work with either grants or contracts (although I understand I will eventually be doing some contract work) I will have to study hard.  Most people can rely on their experience but I won’t have that advantage.
I am really excited for this opportunity.  I am way out of my comfort zone and my skill set but it’s exciting and new.  Some days when I get home at night my brain hurts!   My supervisor is brand new as well so she isn’t much of a resource for  me but the section chief is training me and my predecessor is also a great help.  I am writing a desk manual as I learn so at the person following me will have some kind of guide. 
The people here are great.  There is very little turnover and everyone seems to be truly happy in the positions.  The division I came from was just the opposite…..people were miserable and demoralized and in the last month about half the staff quit so that staff that is left is carrying an extra heavy load.  It’s  amazing what a toll that takes on people individually.  I feel so much lighter and happier and ever so grateful.   I am thankful for fresh starts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten Years Later

It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed since that fateful day.  Like so many others, I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember hearing a local radio announcer say something about a plane hitting the world trade center, and then ANOTHER plane and I thought they were joking.  I remember thinking what poor taste it was to joke about a thing like that and just to make sure it was a joke I turned on the TV, and was so sure I wouldn’t see anything to confirm what I had just heard that I shut it off just as fast.  And then I realized it HAD been on the screen.  In that second of realization my world changed forever.

For the rest of the day I sat mesmerized in front of the television at work.  There was only one other employee on my floor that day, the rest were traveling and would be out for a few days.  My coworker Joan and I sat listening in stunned silence throughout the day.  It was just so hard to wrap my head around.  I had never even heard of Osama bin Laden.

Ten years later so much has changed.  We’ve been at war ever since.  Thousands of Americans have lost their lives as well as our allied forces from other countries.  Many civilians from the countries we have invaded have lost their lives.  Billions of dollars spent.  Our economy is in dire straits, at least partially due to the war.  Our futures seem to dangle precariously, particularly our financial futures.

We live in a world where ‘terrorist’ is a word we are all familiar with. We all know the significance of orange and red alerts.  We are familiar with invasive airport procedures.  We all live with the certainty that there are organized groups of people out there whose mission it is to do us great harm.    Were it not for the comforting hand of God and the peace that comes from knowing Him, I don’t know how I would survive.  All I know is the years ahead will bring more uncertainly and more struggle and strife.  God help us all.

We can, however, be thankful for the people and their brave spirits that have emerged from this tragedy.  I think of Todd Beamer from flight # 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania and his heroic last act to proclaim “let’s roll” as they took over the cockpit.  And the operator who prayed with him before the plane went down as well as his wife, Lisa, who became the iconic picture of survival.  I think of Lauran Manning and her incredible story after being burned over 80% of her body in the World Trade Center.  And all the other heros of the downed flights and all the first responders who put their own safety at risk in order to try to save others.  It was the worst of humanity and the best of humanity.  My heart goes out to all the survivors, those people who lost loved ones and to those souls that perished....may they rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grateful For Our Soldiers Sacrifice

I know blogs are not generally used as book reviews but once again, I can’t resist.  I just read possibly one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, it certainly captivated me more than any book I can remember, and that’s saying something because I’ve read a lot of really great books.  It’s called Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  It first chronicles the childhood of Louis Zamperini who is any parent’s worst nightmare.  If he were a child today they would probably have him diagnosed  ADD, ADHD and anything other acronym code for wild and unruly child.  As a young adult he held the national record for the mile and went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936.  He became well known for his athletic accomplishments and learned to appreciate attention given for good deeds instead of bad ones. 

He enlisted into the Air Force in 1943.  After the plane he was in crashed into the ocean killing all but three on board he spent 47 days drifting on two life rafts with two other men and very little provision.  They battled the sun, sharks that surrounded the rafts constantly as well as dehydration and starvation.  Then the real saga started when they drifted into Japanese territory and were captured as POWs.  This story was not always easy to read, the abuse they suffered as POWs was unimaginable.  The beatings, the degrigation and humiliation, the diseases they got from the lack of sanitation and lack of food and clean water, it was incredible any of them survived.  Louis entered three different camps and each one was worse than the one before.  They were enslaved by their captors who worked many to their deaths.  Overall, 37% of POWs died in Japanese camps compared to 1% in the German and Italian camps.

Eventually they were freed and he reunited with his family and married.  But the scars and nightmares of prison camp persisted and he turned to alcohol to numb the pain.  For several years he a prisoner of his own hatred and shame.  He couldn’t exorcise the demons of war.  One day at a revival by Billy Graham he was able to give all it all to God in one of the most beautiful and inspirational accounts of God’s glory, mercy, love, forgiveness and redemption I have ever read.  From that moment on his nightmares ceased.  He was finally free.  God literally took all that hatred from him and became a committed Christian.  He founded a camp for boys with behavioral problems, worked for a church and did the circuit as an inspirational speaker.  He returned to Japan to the prison that housed all the war criminals to express his forgiveness.

This is truly one of the most extraordinary accounts of a life well-lived that I have ever read.  What I have touched on here is only the tip of the iceberg.  The lessons it teaches are about faith, perseverance, hard work and so much more.  It cannot help but inspire you and make you a better person.  When the book is over you will long for more.  I have discovered Louis Zamperini wrote his own autobiography Devil at my Heels which is already downloaded to my Ipad.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You Know You're From Haines if You Remember.......

Recently someone started a group on Facebook that has garnered quite a following.  It’s been a fun trip down memory lane.  Here are some of my favorites:

·         Feather and Fin restaurant
·         Moose Horn restaurant
·         Doody’s store
·         Wileys restaurant
·         All the “put the fear of God into kids” adults:  Retha Young, Florence Lammers, Ethel Powel, Bill Battrick
·         Roller skating at the old barracks
·         Swimming at 11 mile
·         When the bakery was a row of apartments
·         The big outdoor stairwell into “Schnable’s apartments” with the Post Office below
·         The “Rack & Que” (someone even still had a Tshirt!)
·         Mrs. Berry’s pink everything!
·         Powell’s Store
·         Hakkinen’s Store
·         The Corner store (owned by McDowells)
·         Curfew siren going off every night.....10 pm on weekdays, 12 on weekends
·         The police station up by the legion hall
·         Customs down at 1 mile with a sign saying if you missed us, check in tomorrow morning
·         Riding the cable car at 26 mile
·         Sourdough Pizza (taught me to love of sprouts atop my pizza)
·         The old yellow truck on the playground
·         The rope swing up by Menakers
·         The Smell of the Yukon
·         Strawberry Festival
·         When the “Food Center” was brand new and it seemed so big
·         Porcupine Shorty’s strawberry patch
·         When you could go to the movie theater and pay $.50 for the ticket and $.50 for popcorn & soda
·         Dr. Jones cutting the cast off my leg in front of my 2nd grade class

Monday, July 25, 2011

Piper the Bear Stalker

Saturday night I was awakened to Chris’ frantic voice saying “there is a bear in the yard and Piper is trying to stalk him”.... so I got up and sure enough, Piper was probably 15 feet away crouched down in stalking mode while the bear lay under the peanut tree eating the layers of sunflower seeds under the mulch, completely oblivious to the danger lurking nearby.  This is a good time to insert this is a cat who is afraid of his own shadow.   I yelled for Piper to come in but he didn’t so much as look in my direction.  I turned on the back porch light hoping to scare the bear away but he didn’t even look up from his snacking.  I watched this ongoing saga for about 15 minutes and finally, in desperation or exasperation, not sure which, I grabbed a broom off the back patio and in my nightgown and bare feet (and hoping no neighbors were watching) I chased the bear off and grabbed my cat. The things a feline mother has to do....

P.S. It was too dark for a picture or I would have taken one but I leave you with the visual of angry woman defending her brood.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Of Books and Floods....

Recently a friend of mine commented that she hates to try out new authors for fear of being disappointed.  Those words have been gnawing at me ever since.  She is an avid reader so I find that sentiment really sad.  I LOVE discovering new authors, it’s one of the great joys of reading.  To limit yourself only to the tried and true ones seems really confining to me.  I fear more being disappointed by an author I’ve always enjoyed.   Jodi Picoult is a good example, I always buy her newest book but in the 20 or so that I’ve read of hers there were a couple I struggled to get through.  But c’est la vie.  Whether or not a story appeals to one personally has a lot to do with the topic at hand and some topics are not as interesting as others to me.  I didn’t particularly care for the one about an autistic boy for instance, but her last one that deals with several hot button issues in our society today captivated me.  Infertility, gay rights, conservative Christian views, love.  How can you go wrong with that?

In other news we are under a flood warning in Juneau! They are not sure why but speculation is there was a lake that has been trapped by the glacier that is now free. This morning the water level was 13.7 feet and rising.  Minor flood stage is 11.5 feet while moderate flood stage is 12.5 feet.  It’s a little disconcerting to say the least.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t get any worse.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hailey Mae July 13, 1993 - July 2, 2011

It was June 7, 1993, I had just returned from a trip south and had one more day left of vacation.  It was sunny and bright out and I relished spending the day in the sun.  Then I got a call from a friend of mine who lived in Washington and she was in town and wanted to go to lunch.  Perfect.  After getting ready I headed out the door and I noticed my cat, Gretchen, following me down the stairs. I thought it was funny that she seemingly didn’t want me out of her site after being gone a couple weeks.  I got in my car and spent 3-4 minutes with the engine running searching for the beginning of a song on the tape,  (remember those days?) then I put the car in gear and started to back out.  I immediately heard a sound I will never forget, a scream, and I instantly knew I had run over my cat. 

Eying the treats that are above her
Fast forward a month or so and my friend Caroline told me about some kittens a friend of hers had.  She took me to their house one night and I picked one out but the kitten wasn’t old enough to bring home.  Caroline seemed determined to get me a replacement cat but my heart wasn’t really in it.  I was worried I wasn’t ready yet and worried if I got one too soon I’d never bond with it.  Non-pet people usually assume when you lose a pet any old animal will do in its place.  I can tell you it doesn’t work like that with pets anymore than it does with humans.  They have such different little personalities and Gretchen I had definitely been in synch.  I loved that cat more than anything in my life and I was the only mama she knew. So I wasn’t really sure when the day came that I brought Hailey home. 

I shouldn’t have worried.  She had me from ‘meow’.  From the moment she arrived I was her mommy and she didn’t want me out of her sight.  She’d sit on the bathtub edge and cry when I was in the shower.  She’d sleep on my pillow.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night and just look at this cute little buddle of fur.  One of the cutest pictures I have of her was when she was a little bitty thing and I was sick.  One afternoon I fell asleep on the couch with my box of Kleenex next to me and when I woke there was Hailey inside the Kleenex box.  It was adorable. 

One of her kitten hood misadventures happened when she and Hillary were playing with a ball of yarn.  I had gone to lunch with a friend and when I returned it took me a few minutes to realize she wasn’t around.  And then I saw her...she was so tangled up in that yarn she literally couldn’t move a muscle and it was wrapped tightly around her neck.  That was the last time yarn was used as a cat toy in my house.

Her claim to fame was her ability to get plastic lids off.  Treats always came in containers with plastics lids and she was a pro.  I had to hid treats where she couldn't get them lest she open it up and eat the whole can.  One day I came home and she had gotten a can of Slim Fast powder off the counter and the lid off. She must have thought anything with a plastic lid was cat treats so she must have been sorely disappointed to go through all that work only to discover a weight loss powder....which I was vacuuming up for months out of my lovely 70s orange shag carpet.

I always had 1-2 other cats throughout her whole life and she was always my favorite.  I really loved that cat, everything she did was just so cute to me.  Unlike Hillary who sought to win Chris over when he joined our household, Hailey wanted nothing to do with him.  She was always a one person cat.  Somewhere along the line I gave her a middle name and always called her “Hailey Mae”......she was really very special.    But cats in old age can be as cantankerous as humans in old age and she was grumpy in recent years, compounded by the fact she did not ever befriend the two new cats or the dog.  She became increasingly isolated in the dog kennel.  She also quit grooming herself and developed mats of hair all over and she stunk.  She quit eating proper cat food and would only eat cat treats.  And she had stomach problems which translates into massive amounts of vomit......everywhere.  Then she started wetting herself so last Saturday I finally made the decision to end her life.  She was 18 years old and she had seen me through a lot of life.  I was pretty confident I was doing the right thing as I drove to the clinic and did fine as I was explaining my decision to the vet.  But the moment I bent down to kiss her goodbye I was hit with a wave of emotion that just about knocked me to my knees.  It was such a visceral reaction that I did not expect.  Emotions are a funny thing, even when you think you have them all boxed up and put away they can knock you for a loop. 

So here’s to you my sweet feline friend, rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Friends Are Like a Box of Chocolates....

When we first moved into the home we now live nine years ago I noticed the woman who lived across the street.  She was tall and willowy and much younger than me.  In the following years I’d run into her occasionally when I was out walking or working in the yard but she never spoke to me and frankly I thought she was really stuck up.  After a few years she moved out and then it seemed everywhere I’d go  I’d see her. ...the Home Depot or the grocery store or gas station.  Then I got a new job and surprise, surprise, there she was. She didn’t actually work in my office but she frequently had to bring things in to be signed and she wasn’t any more friendly there.   At the next job she was dating the father of a coworker.  Then I saw her hanging out with an old landlord of mine and read in the paper she ended up marrying him. She seemed to be one of those women who couldn’t go a nanosecond without a man. This year in January there was an opening at the office I now work at and she one of the applicants.   I couldn’t believe my bad luck,  I didn’t like anything about her.  So imagine my dismay when the notice came out saying she had been hired.  Before she started I looked her up on Face book and there, everything I thought I knew about her  was confirmed.  Every day there was an entry voicing her very loudmouth conservative, Republican agenda and her outspoken discontent with our president.  Even if I agreed with her I don’t appreciate reading people’s political rants on FB and I always hide their entries if they get too obnoxious.  Then I saw another reason not to like her....she is an avid hunter! I am not opposed to hunting, per se, I just cannot relate to the desire to kill animals, particularly for fun or sport.   She has numerous pictures posted posing with an array of dead animals.  And she’s the president of the local NRA club.  The was the final nail on her coffin as far as I was concerned.

So imagine my complete and utter surprise to find I actually liked her!! We have absolutely nothing in common.  She is very girly-girl in some ways....she wears 6 inch heels and perfectly manicured fake nails and is very fashionable with her long processed hair.  On the other hand she is this Harley girl with crazy tattoos and when she isn’t on her bike she’s out hunting or fishing. Or working on machinery.  Or some other manly  pursuit.  She is such a contrast between ultra feminine and masculine.   The funny thing is though we really enjoy each other’s company and get along great.   We play endless games of Hangman and Word With Friends and we have such a hoot just hanging out.  She really brightens my work day and she has a fantastic sense of humor.  I still have her hidden on my FB but every once in a while I sneak on to see what she has written.   There are subjects we avoid but all in all it’s quite a miraculous friendship!   I guess the moral of this story is one of my favorite quotes that says:  don’t ascend so far into your own beliefs that you villainize anyone with an opposing point of view.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Yesterday I was reading Susan Stevenson’s blog and admiring her many wildlife and scenery photos.  If you haven’t yet checked out her blog (it’s on my sidebar – Living in Alaska, Life in the Last Frontier) you really should.  She is an AMAZING photographer who lives in Fairbanks and makes frequent trips to Denali park.  She appears to have an understanding with wildlife, they appear at her command and she in turn takes very flattering photos of them!  She also has some great stories too, such as the attack of the marmot.  Very funny stuff.  So it got me thinking of the wildlife we raised when I was a kid. 

This is Porky, another squirrel friend from recent years
 One of my favorite animals was the squirrel my dad brought in on Easter Sunday one year.  He had fallen out the birdhouse where his mother had nested.  We named him Peanuts and he was quite the character.  My dad had him in his classroom at school during the year but he spent a fair amount of time at home too.  The most infamous story about Peanuts (besides him biting the Superintendent) was the day he ran across our wood -heated cook stove.  Ouch.  And then my sister was washing dishes and he jumped in the water.  That was a rough day for poor little Peanuts.  We eventually let him go but he would still come to me.   The West Tours buses had a stop at our house and I would go out and bottle feed the moose and then I’d go to a tree and yell for Peanuts and he’d come running down to be held.  The tourists would all ply me with treats and take my picture.  I’m quite sure buried in attics across the U.S. are old pictures of the grandparent’s trip to Alaska in the 1960’s and I must surely be in a few of them.

We also raised quite a few baby moose.  There was Bruce the Moose, then Benny, then Bruce the Moose #2, Molly, Sally, Bernadette, Bernice, & Bullwinkle.  I think there were others but I can’t remember anymore names.   It was always my job to feed them from this over sized baby bottle and they always ran to me when they saw me.  We had goats too and the moose calves grew up thinking they were goats.  The goats would always get down on bended knee to eat their grain and the moose quickly learned to imitate that stance.  They were great fun to have.  They never lasted long in the wild though, F&G would come and tag them and release them at a new location out the road and they usually met their end by a bear or hunter.  One story has it that a lady was out petting one with a bright orange tag in their ear and her husband shot it.  Another was overdosed on tranquillizer by the F&G guy when they were fixing to release it.  Most of the neighbors were generally happy to see them relocated, and usually discovered they had eaten more than their vegetables and flowers, my dad included, when he discovered his apple and cherry trees had been devoured.

My dad and I feeding Bruce #2  & Benny
We also had two deer, Shy & Bold.  They used to follow me to school, I’d be halfway there when I’d noticed them behind me and I’d have to return them.  One day I didn’t and they showed up on the playground at school and my dad (who was a teacher at the high school) was informed and that night at dinner I got in trouble.  That story made it in the local paper too I remember correctly.

We had a baby mountain goat for a while, an owl named Aristotle, a beaver, a baby bear and several chickadees I rescued.  Anytime anyone found a wild animal they brought it to our house.   They all kind of blended in with the donkey, goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, peacocks, guineas, horses  and numerous dogs we already had.  Is it any wonder I’m such an animal person???

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blind Allegiance by Frank Bailey

I read this book over the weekend and I am still too shell-shocked, flabbergasted and mentally crippled to write a review.  I never cared for (half-term) governor Palin, mostly because she was so rude to Juneau when she was governor but that was our problem from the start, she knew Juneau didn't support her in the election and she did everything she could to "punish" us from then on. That's the Sarah Palin way.  I had a front row seat to politics in my days in the AG's office and I am cynical - I didn't think anything could really surprise me but I was wrong.  This book details a very shameful chapter of Alaskan politics and I'm using a great review I read on Amazon to share with you.  This person said everything I wanted to and couldn't. 

This review is from: Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years (Hardcover)
I was shocked to read this book. Yes, I expected "Blind Allegiance" to document the lies and crass self-aggrandizement of Alaska's Sarah Palin. I did not expect such a beautifully written, well-documented and ultimately spiritually inspiring saga of the disintegration of one man's moral integrity as he works for Palin. This is a journey of a well-meaning soul's travail through hell and his ultimate spiritual re-discovery.

Initially, being a total new-comer to political activism, Bailey naively perceives Palin to be a self-less political reformer who expresses his ideals and warrants his help. In end, after five years of hard work at the expense of his family and reputation, he recognizes that he had sold his soul to a shattered idol.

As Bailey participates in Palin successful efforts to become a wealthy national celebrity, he begins to understand that she does not have the emotional stability or common sense that he assumed. He sees that she does not really care about the people who elected her or care about fulfilling her governmental responsibilities. He sees that his faith in her has been betrayed. She seeks not good government but good personal publicity.

Frank Bailey was a 35 year old political innocent when he was captured by the charm and apparent political courage of Sarah Palin. A Republican disgusted by the corruption of Alaska's then governor, Frank Murkowski, Bailey signed on to Palin's seemingly hopeless primary run against the well-funded governor with the willingness to clean the toilets of her shabby campaign headquarters, not with the goal of being Governor Palin's chief of staff. But during his five year Palin career, he went from an innocent to a dirty political operative himself as he carried out the erratic, arrogant and unethical demands of his political idol -- his "Reagan in a Skirt".

Bailey documents his descent into Palin's emotionally strewn nightmare with e-mails he received from Palin, her husband, Todd, and others in the their inner political circle, a circle which changed as old members were thrown aside and new members of the faithful recruited. With Bailey's help, Palin got to the very pinnacle of Alaska's government and then to the pinnacle of Republican Party national politics as vice-presidential nominee for John McCain's run against Obama.

The chronicle shows that virtually Palin's only political skills came in the form of marketing herself to voters through her physical looks and charm. Her skill set did not include knowledge of the real problems facing her state or her country, much less knowledge of how to actually run a government.

The majority of Palin's time in office was spent putting her considerable power to use in demolishing anyone who she perceived to be an enemy. She included in her enemies her former brother-law, Trooper Wooten and anyone who dared to voice the slightest criticism of anything she did or said. Palin was ruled by her emotional whims not reason, and thus she ruled Alaska. "Off with their head" said the queen of public charm and vicious attack, while her minions, of which Bailey was one of the most loyal, immediately proceeded to sharpen their swords and attack. Many innocent people were badly injured in her forays.

Bailey was not innocent and it is not a pretty story to read of his own moral disintegration, but this chronicle of Palin's rise to fame and fortune, is extremely well documented through e-mails sent to Bailey by Palin herself, her husband, Todd, and members of the shifting inner circle. The writing/editing team of Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon is to be congratulated for this work.

It is an important book for all voters, everywhere, to read, as it shows how easily we can be fooled by physical and emotional charm, or the glittering words of potential candidates who seem to express our ideals.

We need to look at candidates' deeds, their actual experience in governing, before we allow them election to critical offices. We only just missed electing Palin to the second highest office in our land, as vice-president to the 72 year old McCain, by a few million votes. We can't allow effective political marketing of shallow candidates to over-ride effective governing, and this applies as equally to the Palin-bots as the Obama-bots.

Read this beautifully written book!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

Old gross walls

Oscar being ever helpful throughout



The new walls in back (the cats love walking down it!)

We had a busy weekend for sure.  On Saturday we got two pallets of bricks delivered from The Home Depot.  Our intention was to tear out the old rotten, 2x4's that had been holding the garden in along the perimeter of our house and replace them with bricks walls.  SOMEONE (who will remain anonymous) had done the math and determined we needed two pallets of bricks but we built all the garden walls and still had a pallet and then some remaining.  Our next project was to do a garden behind the house.  First all the rocks that had been there had to be hauled away and then we had to level out the front.  Chris is upset that it isn’t in a straight line (the very linear engineer in him) but I told him my garden doesn’t grow in a straight line and I enjoy the more organic look.  I had to keep reminding him the brick is to enhance the garden, not the other way around.  He kept saying “it’ll grow back”....not what I wanted to hear.  He doesn’t understand the emotional attachment to gardening! When the back was done I had the bright idea to build another garden in front.  I have actually been wanting to do this for year so it worked out great.  It was H O T yesterday and it is hard work hauling those bricks, rocks and heavy bags of soil around.  Today I almost enjoyed coming back to work so I can relax!  That’s a lie actually, it’s supposed to be in the high 70’s today and I’d give anything to continue my vacation.

New garden with miniature liliac in the middle

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

More Pretty Flowers

I don't know what this is, some annual I bought

Primroses with a strawbery mixed in

Plot by the woods

Trillium in bloom


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oprah's Last Day

Today ends the Oprah show that has been a part of my life for probably a good 15 years.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be Oprah. I believe she has made more of a positive impact on more people than anyone else in recent history.  There are many celebrities that are revered for whatever talents they have but I doubt any are as beloved by so many as Oprah.  She can make you feel inspired, uplifted, empowered, encouraged, educated, and entertained.  She can make you think, make you cry and make your laugh.  She can challenge your way of thinking and super-size your compassion.  She has the ability to bring the world and its diverse population into your living room and allow you to see with different eyes and more understanding hearts.

I love what she represents about our country.  That a unwanted baby girl born in into poverty in 1950’s backwoods Mississippi to a single mother could then rise to such meteoric fame and success is a testament to America and all it stands for.   Those are the stories she profiles on her show...the woman in Africa who is beaten for doing her brother’s homework, who has 3 children and an abusive husband  by age 18, yet she manages to get a high school diploma and later a chance to study in America where she achieves a BA, MA and then doctorate degree minus one abusive husband.   Or the two sisters who saw their grandparents murdered after their home was burned to the ground.  The lived as refuges in a camp in Rwanda until adopted by an American family and then went on to achieve their dreams of higher education and then back to Rwanda to improve the lives of people there.

Oprah is a lot of things to a lot of people but what I admire most about her is her heart.  She has such a heart for people and their circumstances.  Her compassion, wisdom and generosity have touched so many lives.  She has truly used her celebrity in constructive and admirable ways. 

 I also love what she has done to promote reading, inspiring legions of readers and making many authors successful.    I love her constant testimony about how God works in her life.  She gives God all the credit he is due and teaches us how to listen for His voice.  One of my favorite stories she tells is about wanting a part in ‘The Color Purple’.  She wanted that part so much she could think of nothing else.  She obsessed about it.  The casting came and went and she wasn’t called.  One day she was running laps around a track and thinking about that part when the song “I Surrender All” came on her headset. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
all to him I freely give; 
I will ever love and trust him, 
in his presence daily live.  
I surrender all, I surrender all, 
all to thee, my blessed Savior, 
I surrender all. 
In that moment she surrendered her desire for the part in the movie.  She gave it freely to the Lord.  She hadn’t even finished her workout when someone came out to say she had a phone call in the office which turned out to be Steven Spielberg, offering her the part in the movie. 

Peace out Oprah.  Thanks for everything.  My husband is rejoicing but I will miss you dearly.

To God be the glory.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oh, My Word!!

I may have addressed this topic before but it bears repeating.  My newest addiction, since Christmas when I got my I pad, is WORDS WITH FRIENDS.  It’s a scrabble-like game app with a slightly different board layout than scrabble.  It is both fun and aggravating.  A couple months ago I was watching a Dr. Oz show and he talked about your wenis, the skin that often is dried out looking on your elbows.  He mentioned in the show it is also a great scrabble word and I have been patiently waiting to use it ever since.  Last night, after 5 ½  months of trying I had my chance.  Imagine my anticipation to drop a N I S under a W E, utilizing a triple word square to boot.  I could hardly wait to see my score.  But wait........how could this be??? It would not accept it as a word!!!  Boy do I have an ax to grind with the people at WORDS WITH FRIENDS.  There is just no accounting for their random vocabulary.  Once while desperately trying to make a word with my remaining tiles and the availability on the board I made a very horrible word....I come up with all kinds of combinations while desperate and I automatically press “play” hoping it accepts these words I’ve never heard of and occasionally it does.  This time it accepted this horrible word which I will not name because this is a family blog.  I immediately had to call my friend Susan and apologize.  I was really quite horrified and until the game is over there is that word staring at you.   Juxtapose that to a legitimate body part name that is not accepted and you have an idea of my utter consternation.

Another things that bothers me is it’s not so much about your vocabulary as it is tile placement.  I love words and I like to come up with unusual ones but most of the words I use in the game are pretty common 4-5 letter words.  Both my nieces, however, come up with some doozies.  Recently one played “VROUW” ....it’s a Dutch title for married women.  The other used “SQUEG”....an electronic circuit component.  Okay, for reals, how many of you knew that????

P.S.  My spellcheck didn’t recognize “wenis” either.